The ‘Secret’ was the Previous Painting

Two Ink Seascapes One Successful and One Not

A comment about the painting I shared on Friday reminded me how paintings I regard as successful are frequently built on ones I regard as lacking.

“Such movement, yet so simple, and not overworked. How you do it is a marvel.” — L.

My response was:

“What you don’t see is the previous overworked one that taught me to do this one.”

And here’s a photo of it for everyone to see. Of course I had intended for the first drawing, the one on the left, to be successful too. But I ruined it by being heavy-handed with the ink.

Two Ink Seascapes One Successful and One Not

The damage started with an inadvertent splodge of Payne’s grey on the headland, where there should be vertical columns of rock with only some of it in shade. Being on dry paper the ink wasn’t keen to lift off, and then much of it was wind-dried before I’d decided what to do, and, and, and I can keep making excuses but the truth if I messed it up at this point.

If I’d had opaque white with me I could have mixed it with my inks and worked over the top, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to keep going with it, make the other areas more solid, but it didn’t help.

Time to put it aside, and try again. Instead of repeating the composition, trying to include the whole bay, I allowed myself to focus on the bit I was really enjoying, the pattern on the shore. Faced with a beautiful location, I tend to have a compulsion to “include it all”, but of course we needn’t. Slices of it are beautiful too.

Two Ink Seascapes One Successful and One Not

Second time lucky. Or practice makes perfect.

Now I’m sure that at least one person is going to prefer the painting on the left to the more abstracted one on the right. So let me pre-empt and say I do like bits of it, but it’s not close to what I was wanting to achieve on that particular occasion. When I look at it weeks from now I might like it more or make a plan to take it further. And that’s why I don’t tear things up on the same day I paint them.

Ink Meets Shore

Lines Shore Black and Orange Ink Drawing Finished

On the ‘other’ side of the waterbreak large bands of waves were crashing in, the result of the previous day’s strong north wind. (Larger than they look in this photo because I’m looking down on a steep shore.)

Waves North Wind

Moving to a favourite picnic table, overlooking the shore, the large boulders exposed, only small waves lapping through bands of seaweed. I’ve been here many times in the nearly 10 years we’ve been on Skye, but I think this was the lowest I’ve ever seen the tide.

I realised that for once I wasn’t staring into the distance, but was being mesmerized by the pattern on the shore. So out came the black ink, followed by a pot of an opaque fluid-acrylic orange that I grabbed as I headed out my studio from where it’s been sitting waiting to be tried for the first time.

Yes, I am applying it with a stick. It gives a randomness to the marks. And, yes, this stick does live in my pencil box because sticks can be hard to find in some locations.

Then, some “sea colours”, in acrylic inks. Payne’s grey, marine blue. A splash of acid yellow-green. Watercolour paper, 350gsm, A3 size.

It’s abstract, but I like it. For me it’s got a sense of location (though seashore, not necessarily Camus Mor) and the breeze in my hair. What others will see and feel, I can only guess.

Left or Right? Pick a Favourite

I’ve been painting some small 15x20cm canvases alongside the large commission I’m working on. I’m now trying to decide which of these two, both inspired by Talisker Bay, is my favourite.

Just when I think it’s the one on the left, the one on the right tugs at me. Which would you choose (post a blog comment and let me know)? Both do feel a bit wintry to be painted in summer; it was sunny and warm in my studio, so perhaps at a subconscious level I was feeling a bit too hot. .

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Monday Motivator: Don’t Be Dull & Dutiful

Monsieur P painting

“Some of the dullest pictures in the world are done by painters who dutifully observe the rules

“… some of the most interesting have come from artists who … took risks, who daringly tried out concepts and techniques just to see if they might possibly work despite rules.”
— Edward Betts, Creative Seascape Painting, page 46

Know what the rules of painting and drawing are, aim to break them deliberately not inadvertently, and take the time to decide whether it enhances or detracts. All too often it’s how you break the rule, not the mere breaking of it that will determine its success or failure.

Take “though shalt not place a horizon line at the midpoint as it divides a composition in half”. To me, in this painting it doesn’t:

Painting seascape Isle of Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Moods of the Minch: Stillness. 100x30cm. Sold.

I think it doesn’t because of the echo between the band of rocky shore and the band of islands, the band of sea and the band of sky.? The upper half is divided roughly one third islands two thirds sky, while the lower half can be divided in two (counting the rocks and spray as one) or three (sea, spray, rocks). I feel the wider band of sky dominates and distracts the eye from the halfway horizon. I think the proportions of the canvas, so wide to the height, also help as it’s not easy to see both side edges simultaneously (well, in real life, not a small photo!).

Did I do it deliberately? I don’t know, I don’t recall. I only know it’s not where I typically place the horizon. Maybe it’s time I did it again.

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New Painting: Lambing Snow Showers Seascape

This new seascape painting is headed to Skyeworks Gallery this morning. It’s inspired, as many of my painting are, by the changing light over the Minch, this time the dance of late snow showers blowing in from the north. Known as lambing snow, because it comes after some lambs have already been born (though hereabouts most crofters lamb late to avoid it). Ne’er cast a clout till May be out and all that.

Moods of the Minch: Lambing Snow Showers Painting
Moods of the Minch: Lambing Snow Shower. 140x70cm (diptych, two panels of 70x70cm each). ?695. At Skyeworks Gallery
Detail from Lambing Snow Seascape
A detail, showing the layers.

It’s done as a diptych, two 70x70cm canvases making it 140x70cm. This makes transporting it (and shipping if needed) so much easier. But also varnishing! Disadvantage is there’s more edge to paint.

Two New (Big) Sheep Paintings

The last coat of varnish is drying on the second of two big sheep paintings — each 100x100cm — that I finished in October.?One is reserved (someone who asked for first option on my next sheep paintings, and now I’m arranging for her to see it in ‘real life’ not just a photo) and one that will probably be heading south with me next week when I set off to the Christmas fairs at York (Living North Christmas Fair at York Racecourse) and Glasgow (Country Living Christmas Fair at SECC).

Beside the Sea (Sheep Painting)
Beside the Sea
100x100cm
In my studio
A Stroll on the Beach (Sheep Painting)
A Stroll on the Beach
100x100cm
In my studio. Reserved.

Sold: Storm Warning

There’s something contrary (but delightful) finding out on a gloriously sunny day that my “Storm Warning” painting has sold. It’ll be heading “across the pond” to Massachusetts. The painting is one of my more wildly big-brush expressive pieces, as the detail photo of the brushwork below shows.

Minch Seascape Painting: Storm Warming
“Storm Warning”
75x75cm
Sold

Detail from Storm Warning painting

Hedging My Painting Bets?

Being a gloriously sunny and not too windy day, I took a work-in-progress done on two 50x50cm canvases taped together outside to dry. Wanting to keep it out of studio cat reach, I propped it up in the rose hedge. The in-house art critic’s comment when he saw: “Are you hedging your bets?

Work in progress drying in the sun
Work in progress drying in the sun

Here’s an on-my-easel photo of the painting at the stage where I wanted it to dry thoroughly before continuing.

Work in progress. Two 50x50cm canvas
Work in progress. Two 50x50cm canvas

This is the painting as it was when I decided it was finished. I even have a title — Weather Forecast for the Minch: Occasional Showers.

Work in progress. Two 50x50cm canvas

And this is the back, how the two canvases were held together with wide masking tape for painting. The reason for doing it like this rather than on a single, larger canvas is that it’s easier to transport.

Work in progress. Two 50x50cm canvas taped together
Work in progress. Two 50x50cm canvas taped together

On My Easel: Seascape in Need of a Title

Sometimes I think the hardest thing about painting is deciding on a title. I declared this small seascape finished yesterday, but still have to find a name for it. It’s inspired (as so many are) by the view across the Minch to the Outer Hebrides, on those mornings when the sunrise turns the clouds pink and their reflections turn the sea pinkish too. If you’ve any suggestions for a title, do post a comment!

Seascape Purple Storm painting by Marion Boddy-Evans

This painting is 30x30cm (about 12×12 inches), and when viewed at full size is larger-than-life, the photo below gives an idea of the layers and details.

Seascape Purple Storm painting by Marion Boddy-Evans